Our passage today is the conclusion of a major section of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Remember that Romans was written to a divided church, one battling for identity between Jew and Gentile believers. There is a major point that Paul has been defending since chapters 4 and 5—justification through faith. Justification has two parts, the removal of God’s wrath (paid for by Jesus) and the imputation of the righteousness of Jesus. These two points are very important, but the question of chapter 6 is “OK, I’m saved by faith so I can keep living how I want;” to which Paul responds, “May it never be,” or in our vernacular, “Heck no!”
If Jews and Gentiles are justified through faith, then what was the point of the OT Law? Paul’s response is found in chapter 7 along with Paul’s transparent struggle with sin as a believer. Chapter 8, then, responds to the question, how shall we live? Paul shares with us God’s gracious gift of the Holy Spirit to help believers overcome trials in everyday life before responding specifically to God’s plan for Israel in chapters 9–11.
So, Paul begins our passage today asking “What then shall we say to these things?” As I opened today’s passage in verse 31, my first response to this question, as I hope it was for you, “what things?” One commentator sums up the previous passage beautifully,
“What, then, are we to conclude from all of this? As children of God we have been adopted into his family (v. 15). We are co-heirs with Christ (v. 17). We have received the Spirit as the guarantee of final redemption (v. 23). Our prayers are taken up by the Spirit and laid before God (v. 26). Though sinners by nature, through faith we have been acquitted of all wrong (v. 30). Our future glorification is so certain that God speaks of it as already having taken place (v. 30).” (Norlie, quoted in New American Commentary)
As believers, we should not expect a life free from struggle. Just because our future, in Christ, is certain, there will be hardships. However, regardless of our toil and failures in this life, Paul says that it is a (relatively) small thing to see us through to the end, when God was willing to give so much through Christ.
Election is often seen as a dirty word. It is not. Romans 3 vividly depicts depravity and that under no circumstances could humanity attain righteousness or even pursue God. Thus, justification is God’s work, our response is faith. Our faith is in Christ who gave his life on the cross and now intercedes to God the Father on our behalf (36).
In John 16:33, Jesus said that “I have overcome the world.” The word “overcome” is the Greek word nikaō. When Paul says in verse 37 that we “overwhelmingly conquer,” or “are more than conquerors,” he is using a compound word hyper–nikaō. In this particular case, the total is equal to its parts—hyper a preposition, meaning over and above, beyond, or more than, and nikaō meaning to overcome or conquer. We are more than conquerors because Christ has already overcome the world, and sin’s power over it, and he prevents the world from overcoming us. The trouble of this life against the power of Christ is like a toddler against Mohammed Ali in his prime—rumble, young man, rumble—no chance.
What are some of the trials you’re facing right now, and how have you been encouraged by the fact that you are “more than a conqueror?”
By: Tyler Short — Connections Associate